CRITICISM AND SELF-CRITICISM
1. CRITICISM AND SELF-CRITICISM
2. OUR MAIN OBSTACLE TODAY
3. BOURGEOIS INDIVIDUALISM
4. LACK OF SERIOUSNESS
6. EMPLOYEE MENTALIFY
7. COMBAT LIBERALISM
8. LACK OF PLANNING
9. STUDY OF CONDITIONS IN OUR COUNTRY
10. SYSTEMATIC SUMMARIZING AND EVALUATION OF EXPERIENCES
11. SOME OBJECTIONS
12. CAN WE SUCCEED?
CRITICISM AND SELF-CRITICISM
The seed of revolution has been sown again in our land, and our Party can feel some
sense of achievement in the part we have taken in this planting. We are still young and
small but we have made a strong start. We have done more than scratch the shiny surface
of the U.S. ruling class; we have begun to rip away its mask, to expose its ugliness— and
to get under its skin.
It's not for nothing the ruling class has decided to make our Party its number one target in
the U.S. In a relatively few months, we have set up a national Communist party with a
wise and firm foundation of friends, readers, supporters and members among working
people, black and white, as well as among the students, in the forefront of today's battles.
Also, we have begun to overcome the main internal weaknesses which had been holding
us back. First and foremost we have corrected certain sectarian policies which had
isolated us from too many people and organizations in the growing people's movement
against the war, slum conditions, high prices, wage- squeezing and other fat-profit
Government policies. We know now that in our early stages we under emphasized united
front work, neglected the labor movement, and expected too much too soon. Since our
founding convention a year ago we have begun to combine with large numbers of people
and to take united action with many groups, while maintaining and advancing our
Marxist-Leninist principles and actually expanding our advocacy of socialist revolution.
To some extent our early sectarianism was inevitable as we fought to avoid the right-
opportunist errors of the old Communist Party which had followed the "three secrets"
policy: keep the Party a secret (except from the FBI), keep the activities a secret (even
from Party members), and keep revolution and socialism a secret (from the masses of
Our members had to fight hard to put forward publicly the principles of socialist
revolution. We had to let people know what communism really means, that yes there is a
way finally to solve our problems-socialism; and that a Party exists which is not afraid to
fight for that solution. We had to and still must struggle to make the idea of revolution
It's not surprising, then, that in our early activities members tended to go overboard and
ignore or even reject people and groups who were not yet ready to join us . This early
sectarianism hurt us, and it's a tribute to our correct overall political line, and to the
energetic, youthful spirit of our members, that we were able to attract so many young
radicals, in spite of this weakness.
Sectarianism and isolation remain problems for us today, but they are not primarily
problems of policy. On the whole we have corrected our policy, and our significant
influence in the current anti imperialist upsurge reflects this change.
At the same time, we have begun to conquer the lack of seriousness which once thrived
in our ranks. Here, the enemy has been most helpful. The arrests, subpoenas and physical
attacks on us have made every member think twice about why he is sticking with this
Party, and understand that the revolution is not to be achieved quickly, but through a
lifetime of struggle, continuing, in new forms, even after the working class takes power.
Some have chosen to leave, of course, but those who remain are stronger for it.
Here, too, our early policy was wrong, dominated by liberalism and carelessness in
recruiting new members. We often placed quantity above quality. Perhaps this, too, was
inevitable at the outset. Also, we didn't always sit down and explain to people what they
were getting themselves into when they joined a Communist party, what the risks are, the
long-range commitment that is a necessary part of the revolutionary ideology. We even
had cases where young people with virtually no understanding of what was happening
were brought into a club and made voting members.
We have learned from these errors, and changed our membership policy. In general, our
members and leaders have been forced to begin thinking about long-term strategy both
for their own lives and the life and growth of the Party.
As a result, we can already see an increase in both the quantity and quality of our work,
our membership, and our Marxist-Leninist study. Last summer's cadre school was a big
step up this hill. Naturally, there remain a few who still have their heads in the clouds,
who are still playing at revolution, but we can rely on the ruling class to thump them
down to earth.
These successes are only the beginning, and it is easy enough to say that none of the
changes has yet gone far enough. But an honest evaluation of our recent growth must
emphasize our success and achievement. Our Party has stood like a young sapling in a
windstorm of howling attacks, sometimes swaying a little but holding firm and deepening
its roots as it grows.
OUR MAIN OBSTACLE TODAY
We cannot of course, just sit and admire ourselves in the mirror of achievement. As the
situation sharpens we must ask ourselves, will we be prepared? As we expand our circle
of friends and relations, will we be able to avoid the opportunist "Hamlin" approach of
trailing after every reformist pie-eyed piper in town? And will we at the same time avoid
sectarian isolation? Will we continue to struggle as we unite with other people and
groups? Will we know how to struggle? Are we perfect or can we improve our work?
If we ask this question and ask it again and again every day in every way then we are
halfway improved already. If we do not ask the question, then we will surely become
smug and complacent and flabby, and we might as well join Gus Hall and Norman
To improve our work means, first, to look for the main weakness or obstacle to our
progress. We should not look far. Those who run to Palomar to scan the skies in search of
dangers may see many interesting phenomena but they will miss the main point. "It is not
in our stars, but in ourselves..." that the main contradiction, and the main obstacle to our
continued success, lies. The main cause of failure— like the main cause of success— is
contained within any revolutionary party or movement, not outside it. Those, like the old
C.P., who blame the ruling class for their failure are only diverting attention from their
own weaknesses or betrayals. Of course, every party must reckon with the real conditions
of life around it, but the party's internal strength or weakness will determine how well it
Our Party's main obstacle is the influence and ideology of bourgeois society within our
ranks. Our most decisive struggle today is between revolutionary and bourgeois ideology,
and particularly between revolutionary morality and bourgeois individualism, between
complete dedication to the working class and middle-class self-interest, which is the
moral and material basis of modern revisionism.
The existence of bourgeois ideas, attitudes and habits within our ranks is hardly
astonishing. At this early stage, our Party, like most new-born revolutionary parties, has a
large percentage of intellectuals and members of middle-class background. Moreover,
every revolutionary party has internal struggle reflecting the class struggle in the society
around it. And the society around us in this case causes some pretty weird reflections.
The U.S. capitalist class is not only the richest, most powerful ruling class in history, it is
also the most corrupt, most brutal, most degenerate and most egotistic; and the ruling
class tries to impose its own morality on the whole of society. It's not just "getting and
spending" that is too much with us. Books, newspapers, comics, teachers, philosophers,
politicians, psychiatrists, movies, and especially television all give subtle daily
indoctrination in the basic elements of capitalist, and fascist, morality: Might-makes-right
(the tough guy is the good guy) and Me-before-every-one-else ("Don't trust nobody").
From our first breath we breathe this stuff. How could we possibly be completely free
from it? The history of the left in the U.S. shows one group after another surrendering to
this bourgeois self-interest, first slowly, then completely abandoning the difficult struggle
against the ruling class and ending up in the comfort corner of class collaboration.
Yet it need not always be so. The bourgeois ideology in our ranks can be a good thing,
too. If we recognize and know how to deal with it, we can grow stronger as a result of
having purged it away. This experience can be a valuable lesson for the future. When the
working class takes power, bourgeois influences do not automatically disappear, as we
can see by looking at the countries ruled by revisionist parties. If internal contradictions
are mishandled in a socialist country the result may be disastrous, as we can see by
looking at these same countries.
Once we recognize that bourgeois influences are inevitable in our ranks, then the whole
question becomes how do these influences crop up, and how should we handle them. If
we fail to handle correctly the problem of bourgeois ideology, then the Party itself, and
particularly the leadership, must accept responsibility for the consequences. We cannot
blame it on society.
The ideological struggle is the primary struggle. Its outcome, in the long run, determines
the political line and the organizational form. This struggle includes understanding and
developing the ideology of the working class as well as battling against bourgeois
At the same time, we must know how to conduct this struggle. Here, it is particularly
important to distinguish between antagonistic and non-antagonistic struggle; we want to
wipe out antagonistic bourgeois ideas and habits, not the individuals who display, often
unknowingly and usually without antagonism, those ideas and habits.
But before discussing how to deal with the problem, let us look more closely at the
The corrupt influence of capitalist morality crops up in many ways. The contradiction
between this influence and our Party's collective, revolutionary spirit and goals takes
Sometimes there will be an open ideological dispute between two lines. A few of our
members wanted to support Johnson against Goldwater in the last elections, arguing that
Goldwater would expand the war, bomb north Vietnam, draft hundreds of thousands of
U.S. boys, and other such things. In the course of discussions this position was clearly
exposed as an opportunist abandoning of the working people's interest. Later Johnson
helped make it even clearer.
That was a case where one line was revisionist and the other was Marxist-Leninist. That
is the best form of contradiction for our Party. It is open and clear cut. The debate is
political and the revisionist or other incorrect position is exposed and eventually rejected.
Such debates should be welcomed and carried to the end. At this stage in history, the
struggle against revisionism is the main struggle within the revolutionary movement.
Thanks mainly to the consistently negative example of the U.S. revisionists and social
democrats, our Party has not had too much difficulty with these policy disputes.
However, we must be continuously alert to bring such disputes out in the open when they
We intend to deal mainly with those aspects of this contradiction which are more
concealed; with the struggle against bourgeois habits and ideas, which are often little
understood by those who harbor them. Here, the two main conflicts are between
bourgeois individualism and revolutionary dedication, and between pragmatism and
Marxist-Leninist analysis and planning.
Bourgeois individualism is a fancy term for selfishness. That is, capitalist selfishness,
selfishness for personal gain, prestige, power, comfort or material goods— usually at the
expense of others. People with this approach have an amazing variety of rationalizations.
"The heads of such people are stuffed with the ideology of the exploiting classes. They
believe that 'Every man is for himself 'Man is a selfish animal' and 'No one in the world
is genuinely unselfish unless he is a simpleton or an idiot.' They even use such exploiting
class rubbish to justify their own selfishness and individualism." (Liu Shao-chi, XI, How
to Be A Good Communist, Feb. 1946 edition, p. 58)
The conflict or contradiction within our Party, and -often within an individual member, is
between the individualist tendency, which is the authentic Golden Rule of capitalism, and
a dedication to the working class and the vast majority of the world's people, a dedication
that makes socialist revolution and the achievement of communism more important than
personal gain. It might be more accurate to say that through this dedication our selves
become one with our class, and personal gain is achieved only through a gain for the
In other words, how much do we want this thing, this revolution? That's what it all comes
down to. Is it more important to us than ourselves, our personal comfort, prestige, money,
or life? Are we willing to remold ourselves into integral parts of a revolutionary party, to
subordinate and eventually transform the old self into the new self which exists only
through our Party and our unending fight for revolutionary change?
At this point a cry of protest will no doubt arise from many a radical heart. "No," they
will exclaim, "we cannot live only through the Party! That is denying our humanity! Our
individual essence! Our goal of full and free and creative expression for each! We will
sacrifice our time, our energy, our money, but never our minds, never our hearts! "
Some may say these things having been sincerely repelled by the unfeeling bureaucracy
of the old CP. And it is crucial that we avoid any repetition of that Gus Hall-itis. But it is
intriguing that those who argue so long and loud about feeling and thinking often do
amazing little of either.
It is self-evident to anyone who dares to look that we do not want an unfeeling,
unthinking party. Such a party could not last two days as a revolutionary force. A party
whose members don't feel pain and suffering could hardly burn with a desire to wipe out
the rats and slumlords who are eating away at the flesh and blood of our ghetto children.
A party whose members do not care for their fellow men could hardly care whether or not
coal miners can afford to send their children to hospitals. A party whose members cannot
love the people cannot hate the ruling class. A party which does not know trust and
confidence in humanity could never build a society based on that trust and confidence.
And as for thinking, the entire science of Marxism-Leninism requires thinking, a science
which enables us to understand— only through hard thinking— the rules of reality and
change, to develop new thoughts on how to make life better for the vast majority of
people, and to fight effectively the long war against those who fear ideas. Without
creative, individual thinking, there is no Marxism-Leninism. Automatons will never
make a revolution, and any automatons within our ranks are useless at best.
The question is: What is the aim of feeling and thinking? For whom and to what end? Are
we grumbling about going to a meeting because we would rather sit home and watch TV,
or because it may be keeping us from selling newspapers to working people in our
community? Do we worry when making a public speech or writing an article about our
prestige, how we will look, or about how people will respond to the ideas we express?
When deciding for or against a demonstration do we consider the best interests of the
Party or are we more concerned with staying out of jail?
In other words, don't stop thinking and feeling, but change the purpose for which we
think and feel if the purpose is wrong. Use our minds and hearts— as well as our time and
energy— for the working class. The statement, "I'll give my time and energy for the Party
but not my heart" reveals a person whose time and energy are as empty as his emotions.
It is like the artist who says, "I will gladly support the movement, but when it comes to
painting, that I reserve for myself." The movement gains little from this support, and even
less does the world gain from his painting.
LACK OF SERIOUSNESS
As we said, significant progress has been made since our founding convention. Yet,
despite the ruling class attacks on us, some members still think they're playing games.
They think they can call "time out" whenever they want. They are as sloppy in their work
as in their dress and personal habits. They live in a dream world. They just can't quite
understand or believe that our Party is really out to make a revolution, and that making a
revolution takes a lifetime, which means as long as we are alive, and then some. You
can't really blame these people too much. After all, the U.S. Left has been non
revolutionary for so long that revolution is a brand new thought to most newcomers.
The lack of seriousness first crops up in a lot of "little" day-to-day ways: The student
PLer who sleeps late instead of getting out on the campus early to talk with more people;
the member of a neighborhood club who never thinks of writing a story for our
newspaper on PL or other community activities; the "organizer" who never stays after a
meeting to talk informally because he's always rushing, no matter how late at night, to
meet his latest girlfriend; those who just never seem to sell any PL literature, but have
seen all the latest movies; those in study groups who read assignments as if they were
carrying out the hardest job, or don't bother to read at all.
These habits and dozens of others— lazy, degenerate attitudes— are simply self-indulgence.
They grow out of a society which makes work a burden and loafing a goal. But they are
directly related, as is fear, to the lack of desire for the revolution and lack of
understanding of, and commitment to, the working class. Some members who come from
middle-class comfort seem to seek a safe little living room to crawl back into from time
to time, just as water seeks its own level.
True, revolutionary struggle is often taxing, and everybody needs enough rest to maintain
adequate physical and mental health. But racism is a strain on the black people in our
country, napalm bombs are taxing to the Vietnamese, and trying to feed a family when
you don't have a job can be downright exhausting. The ruling class permits its enemies
Let's look closely at the real conditions of this world we tend to live in so complacently.
Let us remind ourselves of the napalmed children of Vietnam and the Congo. But that
may be somewhat distant, although distance should not be a measure of importance. Let
us take ourselves through the ghetto communities of our big cities where we have begun
some work or the Kentucky miner's homes, or the Mississippi croppers, or the Puerto
Rican "migrant serfs" of New Jersey, or their brother migrants in the Salinas Valley; the
rat bites, the TB, the hungry bellies and the soulful eyes, the living death that constitutes
the casualty list of the class struggle. Let us make every member understand that war is
not a sometime thing.
The leaders of our Party must constantly set an example by hard work, commitment, and
willingness to sacrifice. At the same time, we should call attention to Party groups and
rank-and-file members whose consistent activities and courage can inspire us all.
Here we should not seek out those who are simply "devoted" to the Party as a blind man
is devoted to his seeing-eye dog. When we praise dedication we should praise dedication
to revolution, to the working people of our country, and therefore to the Party, as the
leading part of but always part of that revolution and that people. No blind men here!
Each of us dedicates his eyes to all the rest, and so each of us can see better.
To be dedicated, of course, does not mean to be dead. In striving to overcome
carelessness we must avoid the deathly grimness which pervades those few pseudo
radical groups which have virtually declared laughter counter-revolutionary. The laughter
of our Party is healthy and a sign of great basic strength. In general, individuals who take
themselves too seriously, besides being over-stuffed with their own importance, are no
fun to be with. Most people laugh even through hardship; if we are people, we'll laugh,
too. Unfortunately, a few of our people don't yet understand that we are also
revolutionaries, which means that underlying our laughter must be a basic resoluteness.
In due time, of course, the enemy will teach these people. But it may be a costly lesson
for all of us if we wait till then to learn.
The most serious immediate problem facing our Party is the isolation of too many
members from non-Party people, especially working people. This problem persists
despite changes away from some early sectarian policies and despite the fact that a
significant number of Party members have begun to establish important roots for
themselves, particularly in the labor movement. Too many members still have no real
friends outside the Party. A few members still shun getting a job. This is not a policy
problem today, but a problem of ideology in every one of us.
Some members seem to think that developing friendships with new people is some sort of
burden. On certain evenings they'll force themselves out of a sense of duty to visit non-
party contacts, and some won't even do that much. But every free moment they get they'll
drop in for a relaxing bull session, cup of coffee, and rest with one of the in-group or
"real friends" who are usually in the Party.
This elitist snobbery reflects fear and lack of resoluteness. After all, it takes an extra
effort to make a new friend in the neighborhood, in school, or on the job. It may even
mean going out of the way, crossing the street to say hello to a neighbor, inviting co-
workers over for supper or organizing a party. And why strain ourselves to visit new
people's homes when we have such a comfortable "home" here in the social-political
clique which, in cases where it applies, we call our Party club?
Another side of this anti-social attitude is the member who has just read the above and
said to himself most righteously, "I've got friends outside the party— lots of them!" but
who somehow never discusses political questions with any of these friends. He patronizes
these non-Party friends by systematically, though not always consciously, excluding them
from the supposedly most important part of his life— his commitment to revolution. Not
that they have to agree politically, but this patronizing member never even discusses
politics with his friends. The result is they are not genuine friends, and they don't develop
politically even if they should want to.
No one is arguing here that every friendship and tie outside the Party should be purely or
even mainly political. Not at all. The member who can't discuss anything but politics is
going to have a rough time when the World Series rolls around. A few of our members
still seem unable to say anything but, "Will you come to the demonstration?" when they
meet people in the street. But anyone who divides his political comrades from his friends,
who keeps one set of ideas for one and another for the other and never the twain shall
even overlap, is just as useless as the person with no friends outside the Party.
The whole question of mass work requires an analytical article on its own. But it is
basically an ideological question. What do we really want? If we want to make a
revolution in this country, we have to win new people and work with people even when
we won't win them. We cannot do it alone. Alone, we can make ourselves as snug, and
useless, as the cue ball in a corner pocket. In our written work, too, we still tend to be too
narrow. Cliches come quick, and some members enjoy attacking everybody and anybody
who doesn't agree with us 1 10 per cent, and everybody is attacked with equal venom. A
few members still flinch at the thought of working with other, less "pure" organizations.
Of course, polemics such as the recent exchange with Studies on the Left are very useful
and should be conducted. But in general, our writers and editors should consider carefully
how much space is spent on criticizing— and what is the tone of the criticism— various
weak and/or negative tendencies. Let us fire most of our shots, and our most explosive
ammunition, at the main enemy— U.S. imperialism and its front men, modern revisionism.
This attitude says, "I will do what I'm asked to do and no more. I will follow orders. I will
question nothing. I will not think. I will not criticize. And of my sacred, inner self, I will
give nothing." Often, if criticized, members with this attitude will simply withdraw.
Basically, this attitude resists change because to change would mean to give of that
sacred, inner self which is held above and beyond the Party and the working class.
Members with this attitude almost always try to select or somehow manage to get jobs
which require the least responsibility. When they are not doing "Party work," they don't
think about making revolutionary changes in anything. They are "off the job" until the
next meeting or assignment.
If they ever have a new idea it scares the hell out of them, and they quickly smother it as
unbefitting a "good" Party member. They are revolutionaries in a rut, which is an
impossible contradiction. Sooner or later, usually sooner, the revolutionary must destroy
the rut or the rut will destroy the revolutionary, no matter how regularly he attends Party
meetings. Even when they work efficiently and devotedly, such members work dully and
without initiative. "Initiative is for the leadership." Presumably if the leadership
disappeared tomorrow, these members would stop political work because they wouldn't
know what to do. Isn't that just what happened in the fifties with so many Communist
Paradoxically, such people often harbor resentments against one or another of those they
consider to be their "employers," usually some among the leadership. In fact, it is
sometimes hard to figure out what stubborn streak of personality keeps such people in the
Party. Yet if they could only see that it's not so horrible to try something and fail, that
failure is in fact a necessary prerequisite for every success, these members usually have
great political potential and sometimes even brilliant minds buried beneath their
How shall we react when our weaknesses are pointed out? Unfortunately, it is easy to
pick out weaknesses which obviously apply to others and shrug off or ignore our own.
That attitude, of course, reflects the very individualism of which all these weaknesses we
have mentioned are only different forms.
These weaknesses often reflect a lack of involvement in the daily struggles of the
working people. At the same time, they always reflect a low level of revolutionary
ideology. To the extent that individualism dominates an individual, to that extent
Marxism-Leninism is subordinated. The weakness, in other words, consists of both the
existence of bad traits and the non-existence of revolutionary ideology. We must
understand this in order to struggle against these shortcomings. When we criticize, and
when we suggest ways of improving, we must emphasize Marxist-Leninist study.
To the extent that any of the above mentioned tendencies exist in a member, to that extent
personal concern and personal loyalty take the place of class concern and loyalty. But
that is precisely the moral and material foundation of modern revisionism. "Don't fight
the imperialists because you might get killed." So we can see that bourgeois
individualism, if it is unchecked, if it is not consciously opposed in our ranks will lead to
revisionism. The struggle against it therefore, must be sharp, and it must be ideological.
This can't be said too many times. We stand for active ideological struggle because it is
the weapon for insuring unity within the Party and the revolutionary organizations in the
interests of our fight. Every Communist and every revolutionary should take up this
weapon. But liberalism rejects ideological struggle and stands for unprincipled peace,
thus giving rise to a decadent, philistine attitude and bringing about political degeneration
in certain units and individuals in the Party and the revolutionary organizations. (Mao
Tse-tung, Combat Liberalism Vol. II, Selected Works, December 1965 edition, p. 31)
We have often been too liberal in the past. We have tended to avoid sharp criticism. We
didn't want to hurt feelings, or get someone angry at us. True, there is a place for tact in
criticism. But tact is one thing, liberalism— avoiding ideological debate— is something
Unless our Party consciously takes up the job of remolding and involves every member
on all levels, then simply writing about weaknesses will do little good. Of course, we all
have weaknesses. And to say that is to say that we all need to deepen our ideological
understanding and revolutionary commitment. But while true, it is also untrue to say,
"well, we're all guilty, and we should all improve." If that is all we say, then it's a dodge.
Some members are more influenced by bourgeois ideology than others. Some have been
more successful in struggling against it, while in some, bourgeois individualism is so
pronounced it virtually negates the positive aspects of the members and threatens to
disrupt the work of the Party in the particular unit. "Active ideological struggle" is not
easy. It means painful and drawn-out transformations of individuals. It means criticizing
friends. It means criticizing ourselves. It sometimes means being criticized by three or
four or even ten people, and paying careful attention to what each one says. It means
asking for criticism instead of avoiding it. It means honestly admitting fears. It means
constantly studying the political, economic and philosophical concepts which make up
the ideology of revolution, and then thinking about them and trying to apply them. It's not
easy. Making a revolution isn't easy.
Good criticism means self-criticism. If one does not consciously seek out his own
weaknesses and attempt to improve, one cannot give consistent constructive help to
others. The approach to criticism by a member of a club or a leadership body should
begin with self-criticism. Unfortunately, many of us have built-in defenses, retained by
years of middle-class rationalization.
One member who is particularly guilty of selfish, anti collective attitudes read an early
draft of this article and responded by saying, first, "It's good." And then, almost as an
afterthought, "I disagree about selfishness being caused by bourgeois society," and
continued along the lines that "man is a selfish animal" and the whole pattern described
by Liu Shao-chi (cited above) as "exploiting class rubbish to justify individualism."
Naturally, this member diligently avoided self-criticism and change.
Criticism and self-criticism constitute the main process of inner-Party struggle to resolve
the contradiction between revolutionary and bourgeois ideology within our ranks.
How shall we criticize our comrades? Here, the word comrade is used not just in the
formalistic sense of Party member, which is, by the way, a definition quite alien to most
people in our country, but in the truest sense— friend, class brother and fellow-
revolutionary. As we said above, most of our comrades who display tendencies of
bourgeois individualism do so without bad intention. Their ideology, their attitudes, are
enemies. They, as people, are not. Therefore, our criticism must be aimed at changing the
comrade, at eliminating his wrong ideas and attitudes, not at driving him away. Our
criticism must be aimed at reaching unity— unity based on better understanding of
Marxism-Leninism, but unity.
That is the key. Both the comrade offering the criticism and the one receiving it should
begin with a clear desire for unity. If either lacks this desire, if either is out to knock the
other down or preserve and defend his own position, the criticism may well be wasted.
Still, it's important to try. Even if the criticism is not received or given constructively, the
discussion may in time lead to an honest re-evaluation with positive results.
There will always be a few who cannot, will not, improve, who refuse to change, who
sink deeper into their own selfishness, who break with the Party. But we must make those
as few as possible. Even in those cases, the correct handling of criticism may determine
whether such persons leave the Party as enemies or as friends with whom we can
continue working. We must work hard to improve every comrade. Let those determined
to abandon the struggle make that decision for themselves. Sometimes the process of
criticism and improvement may take a long time, during which the outcome of the
struggle is in doubt. In such cases, it's necessary to reserve final judgment on the comrade
in question. But let us not be anxious to write anyone off.
Here, the revolutionary movement has a great need for sensitivity. With the enemy we
must be ruthless, as they are with us. But with ourselves, our comrades, our potential
comrades, our allies, we must be understanding. All of us are capable of real
understanding and friendship, and all of us would like to share these qualities with our
In relations with our comrades we might keep in mind Keats' plea: "Men should bear with
each other more. There lives not the man who cannot be cut up, aye hacked to pieces on
his weakest side."
Let us not forget that criticism includes positive as well as negative evaluation. Praising a
particular member or unit for worthwhile achievements can be a big factor in improving
the whole Party. Those members and groups who usually stay in the background, who do
consistent, unglamorous day to day work selling papers, sealing envelopes, talking to
people in the community, should be especially singled out for recognition whenever
possible. Such positive examples of dedication to the working class may help our
members overcome weaknesses more than negative criticism. Inter-club visits should be
arranged to help members learn from the best Party groups. Appreciation for positive
work must be included in the overall process of criticism.
Criticism, like everything else, contains two opposing aspects. In this case, they are the
giving of criticism and receiving of criticism. Both of these opposite positions are
essential to the process of criticism or self-criticism, but in determining the outcome of
the process one of these is decisive: in almost every case, the receiving of criticism, or the
way in which criticism is accepted, determines the success or failure of criticism or self-
No matter how badly, angrily, or subjectively criticism may be given, if the person
receiving the comments has a constructive self-critical and unity-seeking approach he
will be able to listen carefully, and draw out the legitimate criticism— often unexpressed
in words— from the emotion. On the other hand, no matter how constructively criticism
may be presented, if the one being criticized has a bad attitude, does not want unity and
does not want to change, the criticism will be useless. Of course, the way in which
criticism is given may affect the attitude of the receiver— a little human understanding and
self-criticism will make it much easier for others to accept the criticism you offer; but in
the final analysis it is that attitude of the receiver which is decisive.
Therefore, let us consider some of the most common wrong ways of receiving criticism,
all of which reflect bourgeois individualism.
Some members pay little or no attention to criticism from anyone who happens to be
below them on the organizational ladder. They feel it will compromise their prestige and
authority. In reality, of course, it is just the opposite. By ignoring honest criticism they
lose— and rightly so— both prestige or authority. When leaders have this attitude towards
rank-and-file criticism they are bad leaders or even misleaders; if they maintain this
attitude they have no business in leadership positions. There is no such thing as rank in
the realm of criticism.
Some members will seize on the wrong manner of their critic to evade the content of the
criticism; they take advantage of the weakness or inexperience of their critics, and
immediately turn upon them and accuse them of "subjectivism" and other such terrible
things. Sometimes people raise criticism in the heat of a situation and they don't put it
forward in the best way. Of course, this usually turns people off. But even when criticism
is not given in the best way, we should try to hear the criticism, evaluate its merits, and
then later discuss with the person the manner in which it was given.
Some members adopt the approach of "retaliation" to assuage the wrong they think has
been done them. They will listen to criticism only if the person giving it includes an equal
amount of self-criticism. The sharper the criticism of them, the sharper they plan to make
their retaliation. They are usually so obsessed with measuring the "equality" of the
exchange that they pay only the most superficial attention to the content of the criticism.
If they are denied the right to retaliate they consider it an undemocratic plot against them.
This attitude, of course makes a mockery of the critical process. It is especially a danger
during formal criticism meetings.
Then there are the sulkers. They consider it a grave tragedy to have a weakness
uncovered and criticized, and they usually adopt a very grim look and go off in a corner
and brood for a few days or weeks or even months . They don't understand that the
purpose of criticism is to improve the Party through improving its members, and it's not a
game of hide-and-seek where you hide your own weaknesses and seek those of others.
Sulkers, for all their sulking, usually do little improving. No one can ever be quite sure
whether they're trying to change themselves or just to find better hiding places for their
flaws in the future.
Then there are the wrigglers and squirmers, the "lawyers" who will try to turn honest
criticism into courtroom maneuvers. They will challenge some minor point in the
criticism in order to obscure the essence of it: "I never used exactly those words!" They
will make their statements as general, and as vague, as possible. They will claim they
didn't intend to do what in fact they did. And in general they will talk about anything and
everything except the concrete point of criticism which is raised. They are so desperate to
salvage themselves that they often actually convince themselves they are being maligned
and sometimes even that a conspiracy exists against them. They are like the six-year-old
boy who is criticized for throwing a stone at his little brother. "It wasn't a stone, it was
just a piece of dirt. Besides, I didn't mean to hit him, I just wanted to scare him. Besides, I
didn't throw it at him, I just wanted to see if I could throw it that far." That may be a
normal childish response. But how often have we found it in our own members!
Of course, everyone should defend his views as long as he honestly believes them, but
the key point is that the aim of this defense— as well as the aim of the views— must be to
improve the work of the Party and the working class.
Criticism will only work if everyone has confidence in the group; if the aim of the
criticism and self-criticism is to help the group. In such a situation each person will
honestly admit all weaknesses and errors, even those not apparent, not try to protect
himself by legalistic maneuvers or obscuring his ideas so no one will be able to tell what
he really meant. Who should be so afraid of criticism? Whom are you afraid of? Your
comrades? If you are so afraid of your comrades that you will go to such lengths to avoid
being honest with them, and yourself, then how will you react to the enemy? The
likelihood is you will react like a leaf reacts to a hurricane. On the other hand, confidence
in each other and in the group will give us each the strength of our entire Party and enable
us to withstand any enemy storms.
What form should criticism and self-criticism take within our Party? Here, flexibility
must be the key. The form must be subordinate to the content and the spirit of the
criticism. Many forms are useful.
Formal criticism meetings, or what Mao Tse-tung calls a "rectification campaign," in
which the entire Party holds unit meetings to deal with a particular weakness such as
bourgeois individualism, offer many advantages. First, when such meetings are
announced in advance, people will spend time thinking critically about each other, about
themselves, and about the ideological weakness. This is especially important when we are
not--as too many of us are not— in the habit of thinking critically. Second, when the entire
Party launches a "rectification campaign," members will concentrate attention and
suggestions on overcoming the main weakness or obstacle to the Party's progress at a
given moment. This may avoid scatter criticism, in which everything, big and little,
important and unimportant, is discussed at once, and which can often be more confusing
than helpful. Third, formal sessions will encourage those members who are more shy to
speak out and express their views, which are often extremely valuable. In the process
those more withdrawn people may begin to emerge, get more confidence in themselves,
and take on more responsibility.
Of course there are dangers in formal criticism sessions. The thing can be abused. We
demand too much from people too soon. Even when we try to improve, and even when
we make some headway, we tend to slip back, and need constant help from our comrades.
Remolding a human being first molded by 20 or 30 years of U.S. capitalism is a long
process. The most we can ask is that everyone sincerely try to slowly improve.
Then, too, criticism sessions can be overdone and institutionalized into empty forms.
People can begin to think of Tuesday night as Criticism Night, and beat their breasts for a
couple of hours, often with incisive criticism and self-criticism, and then go home and
forget about it. The Sunday morning sermon with left-wing cliches! Frankly, a good hell-
and-brimstone preacher is more fun.
Finally, formal sessions may sometimes embarrass a particular person who is criticized,
and make it more difficult for him to accept criticism or to criticize himself. Such
attitudes are wrong and we should struggle against them. But we should understand them,
and be sensitive to them. Sometimes a private informal chat or series of chats between
two or three members, or between some of the leadership and a particular member
produce better results than formal meetings.
Still, on the whole, a rectification campaign would be most useful for us at this time, if it
is conducted constructively and with common sense. Many types of criticism meetings
are possible. Sometimes each member may take turns criticizing himself and the others;
or the discussion may center on one particular member; or everyone may evaluate a
particular event and each member's role in it; or a particular weakness which is prevalent
in the group; or a leading member may be criticized by everyone, at least as the first step.
Whatever the forms, our Party and every member of our Party should recognize the need
now for criticism and self-criticism within our ranks, especially aimed at bourgeois
We must study and learn how to conduct what has come to be known as "inner-Party
struggle." In the process, we must concentrate on the basic cause of weaknesses and
avoid personal squabbles and mechanical criticism. We have to find ways to keep the
discussions as much as possible on an ideological level, and encourage members to
express and explain their policy differences whenever possible. The aim of these
discussions must not be to "knock" a particular person or to remove anyone from a
particular post, although occasionally such action may be necessary. As we said before,
the aim of all our criticism and self-criticism must be a new unity of the Party, a unity
based on more and deeper political understanding, and a firmer commitment to
Through all these weaknesses in every aspect, the overriding danger is revisionism:
abandoning the international working class, substituting reform for revolution, trying to
negotiate the class struggle until you negotiate yourself over to the other side. This is the
enemy of the working people of the world, and those who spout this line are as dangerous
as their buddies, the Washington war-makers. We must expose them and attack them at
every turn, and constantly guard against this ideology within our midst.
We might just mention here the personal inner feelings involved in remolding oneself. It
seems paradoxical because most of us cling so desperately to our individualism. Yet no
one enjoys fighting the whole world all by himself. And anyone who has gone through
discussions where he was criticized, where he recognized his weaknesses, and then
improved himself, even partly, knows an exhilarating feeling of freedom— freedom from
his internal self-aggravation and fear— and a new self-confidence and confidence in his
comrades and in the collective composed of all of them. In that feeling we may get just a
glimpse of the man of the future, the communist man, we are working to create.
No criticism, no matter how carefully presented and constructively phrased, should be
expected to bring about significant changes in anyone who is isolated from political
activity. Any club or group which spends so much time in criticism sessions that it never
leaves the meeting room should be sharply criticized. Participation in the struggles of
working people, students, farmers and others for a better life is essential in remolding our
Within this environment, if we can develop correct criticism in our Party we will see that
our errors and weaknesses are not just bad things, but, in fact, can be transformed into
good things. We will learn that without mistakes there can be no progress, and discover
how to turn weakness into strength.
LACK OF PLANNING
Planlessness and pragmatism are inherent in the every-man-for-himself capitalist
economy. And what leads in economics follows suit in politics and even in military
In practice, of course, the ruling class does its best to plan ahead, and we must not
underestimate their ability to scheme. But successful planning is against their inhuman
nature. So they plan for years to wage a remote-control war in Asia without involving
U.S. land troops, and they wake up one morning with a quarter of a million soldiers
sinking in the quicksand of aggression in Vietnam. This doesn't mean they are irrational
or crazy, just that their original plan couldn't work and they were forced to make new
plans— which also can't work. Even in the conduct of their military operations they find
themselves, for all their computer-brains, with such chaotic situations as too many ships
in one place and not enough ships in another.
Traditionally, the U.S. working class and its leaders have been just as pragmatic as our
enemies— if not more so. "But there is no time," we constantly declare in excusing
ourselves. "There is so much to do." And so we rush from meeting to meeting and picket
line to picket line, wearing ourselves out like the proverbial headless chicken and using
just about as many brains.
In our "personal lives," of course, we are capable of great planning, no matter how busy
we are. Individuals develop the most intricate schemes for "getting ahead." A student will
know exactly which courses he needs to take over a period of years, and which teachers
are the "best" in order to achieve whatever degree he has decided upon in order then to
get whatever job he is aiming at. On the job, a worker can tell you just what has to be
done to achieve a promotion. And housewives are constantly preparing, and applying, the
most careful plans not only to get by on inadequate incomes, but often even to save a
little bit for hard times. Yet we say we are too busy to plan for our class.
The result is we run the risk of drifting along from day to day following the easiest path,
which is usually the wrong path. We don't see problems or dangers which lie ahead, or if
we see them we do nothing about them. In the past, faced with unforeseen developments,
so-called working class parties have swung back and forth between adventurism and
retreat. If the police suddenly attack a demonstration, for example, the demonstrators
without a plan either fight wildly, causing needless injuries and extra arrests, or simply
run away, dragging their tails behind them. Even if a plan is made for a given
demonstration, r o plan is made to follow it up, to consolidate the gains, to raise the
protest to a higher level, etc. More often we hear, "Well, let's see how it works out and
then we'll decide what to do next."
Our Party's founding convention took a big step towards meeting this problem and
provided our members with the beginnings of a realistic long-range outlook for the
development of the revolutionary movement in our country. But it was only a start.
Pragmatism in our ranks is mainly an ideological problem and cannot be overcome at one
meeting or by one report. We fail to plan because essentially we don't believe in
planning. Also, it seems easier not to plan, and those who suffer from laziness will do the
least planning. We do not really understand the necessity for planning. We thoughtlessly
adopt the bourgeois approach that only God can make a plan.
It's like a football team coming out of a huddle without a play. "Just snap the ball back
and we'll see what happens," says the quarterback. What happens is that you can't gain
much ground with the other team piled up on top of you.
There are three main ways to overcome this lack of planning in our ranks:
To plan for change without understanding dialectical materialism, the science of change,
is like planning a trip to the moon without understanding rocketry, or even basic physics.
Every single member of our party— no matter what his position—needs to study Marxism-
Leninism consistently. A few have already done a great deal of reading of Marxist works.
Too often, however, these few do not relate what they have read to real life. One former
member used to act as if Marxism-Leninism were a series of magic words which need
only to be repeated enough times to solve the problems of the world. Therefore, he would
repeat the words as often as possible, usually quoting the exact formulation— and only the
exact formulation— written in "The Book," and showing polite toleration for those
younger people who didn't know the "Word." The result is he actually discouraged honest
study and created a cynical attitude among some people towards Marxism-Leninism,
which became identified with his cliches. Not all those who have studied Marxism
behave in this way, of course; some can give and have given valuable assistance to our
The main obstacle to overcome in organizing the study of Marxism-Leninism is the lazy
and basically contemptuous attitude towards study— all study— which is one of the few
things most of us learned in high school or college. "What will it get me?" is the
unexpressed question behind most members' resistance to study. One way to deal with
this problem might be to start handing out cash prizes to those who read the most pages
per hour. If we run out of cash, we could offer free goulash. But perhaps we can find a
Numerous good techniques are available to "enliven" the study of Marxism, and nothing's
wrong— everything's right— with trying to make study as provocative and lively as
possible. Such creative forms as special schools, films and debates can and should be
used. Classes or study groups can he organized in which each student writes an essay on
his experience in reading a particular Marxist-Leninist work, his reactions, his
understanding, his questions. The subject of how to study Marxism-Leninism merits a
separate article; it should deal with, among other things, our positive and negative
experiences, including cadre schools.
Whatever methods are added, there is no substitute for reading basic Marxist-Leninist
works including the writings of Mao Tse-tung. Here, our members should give special
emphasis to studying contradictions, the kernel of change, and understanding the two
aspects— emerging and declining— of every phenomenon, and the struggle between them.
STUDY OF CONDITIONS IN OUR COUNTRY
The encyclopedia of errors committed by well-intentioned students of Marxism who
mechanically tried to apply strategy and tactics based solely on experiences of
revolutionaries in other countries fills many volumes. Mao Tse-tung writes again and
again of the need to study "living ideas," real-life conditions in each country. In the U.S.
we have an advantage because the ruling class has already organized a vast research
network and publishes endless statistics, many of which are extremely valuable. These
must be studied systematically. Of course, no government statistics should be accepted
In any case, no book research, no matter how thorough, can be useful unless it's
combined with study through-experience, examining conditions with our own eyes. This
means living with the people, workers, students, farmers, and everyone we want to
influence. We must be a part of the people, not just at meetings but on the job, on the
campus, and on the farm. If we don't live with the people we can't learn from the people.
And if we can't learn from the people we can't teach anybody.
We should try to study one or two typical samples of a phenomenon and then generalize
from them. For example, if we want to learn how big cities in our country operate, we
might pick Baltimore and Denver, or any two we think are typical, and study their
economies, their politics, the racketeers who run the local business interests, their
connections to the national syndicates and big political bosses, monopoly interests,
composition of working class, main immediate problems, wage scales, unemployment,
etc., and then see if we can draw general conclusions about all or most big cities, and how
to conduct the revolutionary struggle there.
Of course, no one should use "study" as an excuse for inactivity. Our day-to-day political
work must be a source of and a test for our studies, as well as the reason for which we
study. Study without political work is like a menu without food.
The study of concrete conditions has two main aims: to know ourselves, our class and our
allies and the contradictions within us; and to know the enemy and the enemy's
contradictions. If this article serves any purpose, it may help us to understand ourselves a
little better. However, we have been sorely lacking so far in thorough-going studies of the
enemy. In his military writings, Mao Tse-tung says that in learning the laws of war "what
has to be learned and known includes the state of affairs on the enemy side and that on
our side, both of which should be regarded as the object of study." (Selected Military
Writings, p. 86.) Whether during a relatively peaceful period, such as the present, or
otherwise, what we are studying— or should be studying— are the laws of war, class war.
Understanding and taking advantage of the contradictions in the enemy is essential if we
intend to plan ahead.
SYSTEMATIC SUMMARIZING AND EVALUATION
In our short history, we have already lived through several struggles. We have made
mistakes. That is not so important. The question is, have we learned from the mistakes?
Do we summarize our experiences, good and bad, our work in the South or in ghetto
communities for example, and attempt to draw lessons for future work? Do we analyze
our publications? Sometimes we do. But not enough. Our Party must make time for
regular and systematic evaluations. Otherwise, even Marxist-Leninist theory and a study
of concrete conditions in our country will not help us win. Only practice can put our
programs to the true test, only the reactions of the working people and intellectuals
Summarize our experience, evaluate, draw lessons, make new plans, carry them out,
summarize, evaluate: on and on. But when we say summarize our experience this must be
mainly experience among non-Party working people. And here we cannot be like that fat-
headed politician whose only contact with the masses is looking down from a platform at
a street corner meeting.
It's worth repeating several times: every Party member must have close friends outside
the Party. And if a person is a friend, naturally we will share ideas on what is important to
us, politics as well as baseball. Without this base at the job, the school, in the community
or on the farm, no meaningful evaluation of our policies is possible. The "mass line" is
the basis of effective planning. We must consciously plan to plan. We must assign
ourselves time to summarize and evaluate. If the day-today rush of "business" appears too
hectic to permit such meetings, then certain leading members or bodies should take a
period of time together away from the big city's hustle-bustle in some area where they
can spend as long as necessary— even up to a week or two or three —to summarize,
evaluate, study and draw up new plans. The Party's daily functioning can continue for a
while without the physical presence of these individuals (it will even give some of the
newer people valuable experience in self-reliance), but the Party's long-range functioning
will flounder without such sessions from time to time.
In planning, the leadership should pay careful attention to individual assignments.
However, planning can not be seen as the responsibility of the leadership alone, any more
than thinking. Every member should give careful thought to the Party's perspectives, take
part in summarizing and evaluating experiences, and insist on a thorough understanding
of his own assignment. No member should wake up in the morning and wonder what he's
going to do that day. Every member should have a daily plan, which in turn is part of a
weekly and monthly and one-year and five-year and ten-year perspective; each individual
plan should be part of a club plan and the club plan part of an overall Party strategy.
Here it should be useful to organize the perspective by stages, setting clear-cut minimum
goals for each stage, and devoting most attention to what is determined to be the major
objective of each stage. For example, if the objective of one stage is to build a base in a
community, we should analyze the neighborhood forces, their relative strength, stability
and class outlook, then set some simple concrete goals for working with the forces we
seek to develop.
Naturally, we can't make a blueprint for every minute of the day or predict exactly what
will happen in the next ten weeks, let alone ten years. Our plans must be realistic and
flexible. More important, we must be flexible in carrying them out, changing them when
necessary, adapting to new situations, raising questions and proposing new plans. Above
all, we must never plan away our boldness and enthusiasm; we must never reject
initiative because "it's not in the plan." On the contrary, we must always have the
initiative, launch new projects, and stay one jump (at least one) ahead of the ruling class.
But none of this negates the need for planning. Revolutions don't appear magically any
more than skyscrapers do.
Some members reading this may complain that the points raised, while not completely
worthless, are inappropriate at best and perhaps even harmful. They may raise a number
First, they may say, this is not the time to get so introspective, to turn so much of our
attention inward. We've made great strides recently; the tide of struggle is rising; the class
war is sharpening; the people are on the move. If we devote all of our attention to
ourselves, we will miss the boat.
The last point is obviously true. But no one proposes that we devote all our attention to
ourselves— or even most of it. This is not basically a plea for more time, for a new
quantity of agenda— space to be spent on self-improvement, although that should be one
result. It is an argument for more consciousness, for a new quality of understanding of
ourselves in order to improve our work. And it is precisely because we are currently
moving forward that we must worry about our weaknesses. When we suffer defeats and
failures, everyone will be sitting soberly with head in hands trying to figure out what
went wrong and what to do next. That will be the time to emphasize our strengths, to
fight against pessimism and defeatism. But now, when we are "rolling along," we may
tend to overlook or minimize serious weaknesses, to overestimate our strength and
underestimate the enemy. Everybody knows what happened to the hare in his race with
Let no one underestimate the effects of bourgeois ideology. What may begin with a few
private dachas in a Moscow suburb very quickly becomes the restoration of Russian
capitalism, complete with unemployment and official anti-semitism. Who would have
imagined that the land of Lenin would one day let itself be represented by slick vodka ads
in Madison Avenue magazines paraphrasing Ian Fleming's CIA story with the slogan
"From Russia With Ice"? In the same way, Gus Hall's private Westchester dacha is part
and parcel of the whole shameful policy under which a once-communist party mobilizes
its feeble forces to help elect the most blatantly reactionary President in U.S. history.
If bourgeois ideology is permitted to get a foothold, if it is not constantly opposed in our
ranks, it can spread as quickly as cancer with just as deadly results. Of course, we must
keep struggling on the front lines of demonstrations, strikes, and mass movements, but
we must keep improving ourselves, too.
Second, some will say these remarks are too negative. If we have all those faults we
ought to give up! Here, there is a real weakness in this article. It doesn't deal with all the
positive qualities which our membership and our leadership possess. It doesn't detail all
the tremendous gains we have made in the past few years, and especially since the
founding of our Party. By leaving those things out, it presents a one-sided picture, or it
would present such a picture to those who don't know the whole story.
All right, the article is guilty of one-sidedness. But if we recognize that— and we who
know the full story of our Party's development surely we don't need to read self-praise to
know that we have done fairly well— then we can approach the questions raised here with
a constructive attitude. It is patently ridiculous to say that if 'we have all those faults we
ought to give up.' If we have those faults and we don't try to overcome them then we
ought to give up. In other words, if we give up we ought to give up.
Third, some will argue that all this may be true, but there is a war on and a danger of a
much bigger war at any moment. It's a crisis! An emergency! When bombs are dropping
is hardly the moment to consider bourgeois individualism! If bombs are exploding around
you as you are reading this, please be sure you have good shelter before going any
If bombs are not exploding where you are then surely it can't be much of an unusual
crisis. Even where U.S. bombs have been dropping every day for years— in Vietnam— the
people don't stop their work, their studying, their discussions, their criticism, or their
evaluations. That is one of their great strengths.
Our organization has been in a state of crisis every day of every week of its short life.
And if we are true to our revolutionary principles we should expect crisis upon crisis for
the rest of our lives. By that standard, we would never get to consider bourgeois
individualism. This argument is precisely the kind of lack of planning referred to above.
Actually, the sharper the crisis the better from one point of view. People are forced to
face their weakness in time of emergency. Some, the weakest, will retreat from the
revolution, a few will betray it. Many who have managed to conceal or ignore their inner
doubts and fears will be forced to grapple with them, and some will overcome them. For
those, strikes, arrests, battles, wars add steel to the makeup. There is no room for
revisionism at such moments. There are only two sides and it is life or death; when you
come out to fight you leave your goulash behind. The essence of the class struggle
emerges to the surface.
In such a situation, the conditions of battle will do more than this or a dozen better
written pieces could ever do to improve the quality of the work of those who survive.
Nonetheless, if we don't prepare before the battle, most won't survive. It's as simple as
CAN WE SUCCEED?
By this time, not so many people as a few years ago feel the revolutionary struggle in the
U.S. is hopeless. Our people have begun to show their potential. Our Party has never
doubted that we can succeed. But it won't be easy. Those who think it's a snap are going
to wake up one day and find themselves snapped flat on their backs We are fighting a
rich and powerful enemy; this enemy is not going to permit a peaceful change; this
enemy cannot win in the long run, but it can kill a lot of people in the meantime. We
cannot succeed alone. We must join forces with every possible ally among the working
people, black and white, students and intellectuals, farmers, and small businessmen— in
other words, the overwhelming majority of our population. This cannot be done
overnight, but this must be our goal. It is a necessary prerequisite for revolution. This
means united fronts, united work, alliances both temporary and long range, using the
contradictions in the ruling class, distinguishing the main enemy from secondary
enemies, and concentrating all forces possible against that enemy, means we must utilize
many organizational forms for mass action. In a ghetto area, for example in addition to a
PLP club, we might have a Tenants' Union, a part-time nursery school run by a
committee of mothers and older sisters, cultural workshops, a health and welfare action
committee, a youth defense league, etc. This in no way means that we abandon our
independent communist position, our ideological leadership of the revolutionary
movement. Everything in this article presupposes the continuing of our basic line, our
socialist education and our open advocacy of socialist revolution as the only solution to
the problems which plague our people. We are simply saying that to win we must
eventually find ways to unite the above-mentioned potentially progressive elements
behind the working class. At the same time, to succeed we must ally ourselves with the
world revolutionary forces, especially in Latin America, Asia and Africa.
Even with this, we won't succeed automatically. Better than the question "Can we
succeed?" would be "Do we dare to succeed?" Do we really want to make a revolution?
Are we willing to go all the way? That question underlies all the other points in this